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Sherman-Klove and S-K Tools

Table of Contents


Introduction

The Sherman-Klove Company is best known for its S-K Tools division, a well-known manufacturer of automotive hand tools continuing in operation today. In an earlier article on this site we looked closely at the S-K Knurled-Base Sockets produced from the 1930s through 1960s, and this page will offer a more general view of Sherman-Klove and S-K Tools. (The previous article will continue to be available for now, but most of the information will probably be subsumed into this article.) This article will cover a time period from the founding of Sherman-Klove before 1920 up through the mid 1960s, with the acquisition by Symington-Wayne.


Company History

For the early history of Sherman-Klove we turn to an article on the Berland's Tools website, a company with family connections to one of the founders. Sherman-Klove was founded in Chicago by Mason H. Sherman and Roger Klove, initially as a maker of screw-machine products, or more specifically munitions for the first World War. The Berland's article gives the founding date as the "early 1900s", but we can assume that this would have been some years before 1918.

After the end of the war Sherman-Klove continued to specialize in screw-machine products, and likely found a ready market with the fast-growing automotive industry. Although we don't have detailed information on their products, the company probably produced socket blanks and other turned products for various automotive tool makers. The Berland's article specifically mentions Hinsdale Manufacturing, and other Chicago-based companies such as Duro Metal Products would have been likely customers.

During the 1920s Sherman-Klove is believed to have operated primarily as a contract manufacturer for other companies, and may have been responsible for much of the screw-machine socket production marketed by a number of companies. The 1930 Donnelley's Industrial Directory listed the Sherman-Klove Company under the category "Screw Machine Products" rather than "Tools", and gave their address as 3531 West 47th in Chicago.

In 1932 Sherman-Klove formed an S-K Tools division and began offering tools under the S-K brand, using a design with "S-K Tools" in a diamond as a logo. The company filed a trademark application for the S-K diamond logo in 1933, with December of 1932 listed as the first use date, so we can assume that as the starting date for the tools division. The S-K Diamond logo was frequently affixed to socket sets as a decal or metal plate, and an example can be seen on the S-K No. 4168 Socket Set below.

There's an interesting story behind the formation of S-K Tools, as related on the Berland's Tools web site. According to Berland's, the impetus for S-K Tools came from the failure of Hinsdale Manufacturing, a major customer. When Hinsdale closed during the depression, it left S-K with a large inventory of unsold goods, and S-K Tools was formed to handle this inventory. In any event, S-K Tools quickly developed a solid reputation for quality tools, and by the early 1940s had a significant share of the market for sockets. (As a side note, Hinsdale did recover and resumed operations; see our article Hinsdale in Hindsight for more information.)

As part of the development of their line of tools, S-K had their engineer Theodore Rueb work on designs for new ratchet mechanisms. The result of this work was a landmark patent for the first fine-tooth round-head ratchet, issued as patent #1,981,526 in 1934. This ratchet mechanism was a radical improvement for its time, as the fine-tooth action was simple and reliable, and easy to mass-produce as well.

Theodore Rueb went on to develop further improvements to his original design, and S-K used the new mechanism for a very successful line of ratchets, scaled from 1/4-drive up to 3/4-drive. The "round-head" ratchet has remained one of the most popular ratchet styles in the seven decades since S-K's first development, and many modern ratchets are little changed from the earliest design.

In the late 1940s (or possibly early 1950s) S-K formed an alliance with another tool company, the Lectrolite Corporation of Defiance, Ohio. The two brands were advertised together as S-K/Lectrolite, although it's unclear whether this was a formal merger of the companies, or more of a cooperative marketing agreement. Lectrolite had more experience in wrench forgings and handled this side of the business, while S-K concentrated on sockets and drive tools.

Mergers and Conglomeration

During the 1950s and 60s a wave of mergers and acquisitions swept over the tool industry, probably driven by increased competition and the need for additional investment. In 1962 S-K and Lectrolite were purchased by the Symington-Wayne Corporation, and the tools began to be marked with the "S-K Wayne" trademark by 1964.

Later History

Although the primary focus for this article extends only through the 1960s, we'll mention some later events in the interest of completeness. In the late 1960s Symington-Wayne was purchased by Dresser Industries, a large conglomerate, and S-K Tools became a division of Dresser. As a side note, Dresser Industries had previously purchased the Kraeuter Company, a well known maker of pliers and other tools. At some point Dresser decided to introduce a Kraeuter brand of sockets and drive tools, and these were presumably made by the S-K Tools division, based on the similarities in design and construction.

In 1985 S-K was purchased by FACOM, a French conglomerate, and operated as a division of that company for a number of years. Most recently, in May of 2005 S-K was purchased by its management and once again operates independently as the S-K Hand Tools Corporation.


Patents

Table 1. S-K Tools: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedDescriptionExamples
1,981,526 T. Rueb12/07/193311/20/1934Ratchet Wrench (Fine-Tooth Mechanism) 4270 Forged-Handle Ratchet
2,082,356 T. Rueb07/13/193606/01/1937Ratchet Wrench  
2,103,556 T. Rueb03/13/193612/28/1937Ratchet Wrench  
2,174,502 T. Rueb08/18/193709/26/1939Ratchet Wrench  
2,188,846 T. Rueb10/14/193801/30/1940Ratchet Device  
2,232,477 T. Rueb05/15/193902/18/1941Ratchet Device S-K 42470 Ratchet
2,327,821 T. Rueb06/12/194208/24/1943Universal Joint Friction Attachment  
2,334,039 T. Rueb01/27/194111/09/1943Friction Joint  
2,977,824 T. Rueb12/08/195804/04/1961Rotating-head Ratchet Wrench ["Roto-Ratchet"]  

Trademarks

In 1933 Sherman-Klove filed a trademark application for a logo showing "S-K Tools" inside a diamond shape, the design used as a decal or metal plate on their socket sets. The filing listed the first use as December of 1932, and the trademark was issued as #318,718 on October 30, 1934. For some reason, this trademark is not in the USPTO TESS database and so was not found until recently.

In 1958 Sherman-Klove registered the text "S-K" as a trademark, listing the first use date as December, 1932 as in the previous filing. The trademark was issued as #679,222 on May 26, 1959. Also in 1958, the company filed a trademark for "Spasaver", a wrench display board.

In 1963 the company filed a trademark for "Roto-Ratchet", with the first use date listed as 1962.


Manufacturing Dates

Older S-K tools were generally not marked with an explicit manufacturing date. Thus any estimate of production dates must be made based on other factors, such as marking styles, patents, or construction details. We will attempt to develop some guidelines for estimating production dates of S-K tools; however, currently these efforts are limited by incomplete catalog coverage.

The list below includes some observations that may help estimate manufacturing dates for some tools.

  • S-K Chrome Marking. S-K sockets were marked "S-K Chrome" until sometime in the early 1940s.
  • Cadmium Finishes. Chrome plated finishes were standard for most S-K tools from the 1930s onward, but due to material shortages, tools manufactured during the wartime years 1942-1945 may have cadmium finishes.
  • Cross-bar Diameter for Flex-Head Handles. Earlier production of the 41653 flex-head handle used a hefty 9/16 diameter cross-bar, and the hole was equipped with a detent ball. By 1957 the 41653 flex handles were using a 7/16 diameter cross-bar and no longer provided a detent ball. The cross-bar model number remained the same (41650) despite the change of specifications.
  • Cross-bar Holes for Deep Sockets. Deep sockets in 1/2-drive were equipped with cross-bar holes in earlier years, but the cross-bar support had been discontinued by 1957.
  • Hex Broaching for Small Sockets. Shallow sockets in 1/2-drive originally had double-hex (12-point) broachings for all sizes, but by 1957 the three smallest sizes (7/16, 1/2, and 9/16) had hex broachings.
  • S-K Wayne Trademark. The S-K Wayne trademark was used from about 1962 through 1969.

Early Tools

The earliest tools offered under the S-K brand were sets of sockets and drive tools. According to the brief history outlined above, these sets would have been based on inventory originally intended for contract production; but in any event, the S-K sets were similar to those offered by Hindale, Duro Metal Products, Indestro, and other makers. (Examples on this site include the Durobilt Socket Set or Indestro No. 1536 Socket Set.)

The early S-K socket sets are now less commonly found, but we've been able to acquire one example for display. In addition, a very similar early socket set marked under S-K's obscure Brazil Tools brand is shown in a later figure as the Brazil Tools Early Socket Set.


1/2-Hex Drive Sockets and Tools

In its very early years S-K produced sockets and tools using the 1/2-hex drive size.


105 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet with Drive Plug

[S-K 105 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet and Drive Plug]
Fig. 1. S-K 105 1/2-Hex Drive Ratchet and Drive Plug, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 1 shows an early 1/2-hex drive S-K 105 ratchet with a drive plug, marked only with the S-K logo and model.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The drive plug doubles as a screwdriver bit, a common feature of early hex-drive socket sets.


No. 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set

[S-K 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 2. S-K No. 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 2 shows an early S-K No. 115 1/2-hex drive socket set in its cardboard box, consisting of a 6 inch Ell handle and six double-hex sockets from 7/16 to 3/4.

The socket sizes are, from the right, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4. The sockets are marked only with the fractional size.

The tools and sockets are finished wtih cadmium plating.

[Top Cover of S-K 115 1/2-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 3. Top Cover of S-K No. 115 1/2-Hex Socket Set, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 3 shows the top cover of the S-K No. 115 socket set. The label is printed with "No. 115" and "7 Piece Socket Wrench Set", with "Manufactured by The Sherman Klove Company" and "Chicago, U.S.A." at the bottom.


1/2-Hex Drive 6 Inch Ell Handle from No. 115 Set

[S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 6 Inch Ell Handle]
Fig. 4. S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 6 Inch Ell Handle, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 4 shows the unmarked 6 inch Ell handle from the S-K No. 115 set.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


1/2-Hex Drive 3/4 Socket from No. 115 Set

[S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 3/4 Socket]
Fig. 5. S-K 1/2-Hex Drive 3/4 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932-1934.

Fig. 5 shows the 1/2-hex drive 3/4 double-hex socket from the S-K No. 115 set, stamped with the fractional size on the side.

The finish is cadmium plating.


1/2 (Square) Drive Sockets and Tools

S-K's early production also included 1/2 square drive socket sets, and we have a fine example of one of these sets to display in a later figure. First though we'll look at some of the drive tools and accessories from the set.


Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet Handle

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet Handle]
Fig. 6. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Ratchet Handle, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1932.

Fig. 6 shows the 1/2-drive ratchet handle from the early S-K socket set. The ratchet is unmarked, but the set was clearly identified by the S-K decal on the inside cover.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The ratchet mechanism here is basically identical to that used by the Hinsdale H-1 Ratchet, but has been updated with a round knurled handle. The ratchet is covered by patent #1,650,085, issued to J.W. McDonough in 1926 with assignment to Hinsdale Manufacturing.


Early 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle with Drive Plug]
Fig. 7. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle with Drive Plug, ca. 1932.

Fig. 7 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive sliding Tee handle from the early S-K set. The Tee handle is actually composed of three separate parts, as the sliding head can be removed from the handle bar, which has a stop-ball on only one end. The drive plug shown here works with the ratchet handle as well.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


Early 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder]
Fig. 8. S-K Early 1/2-Drive 18 Inch Speeder, ca. 1932.

Fig. 8 shows the unmarked 1/2-drive 18 inch speeder from the early S-K set.

The overall length is 18.5 inches, and the throw is 4.0 inches. The finish is cadmium plating.


Early 1/2-Drive Valve Grinding Adapter

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Valve Grinding Adapter]
Fig. 9. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Valve Grinding Adapter, ca. 1932.

Fig. 9 shows a 1/2-drive valve grinding adapter from the early S-K set, consisting of a sheet metal drive adapter holding a metal plate with tabs of various spacing.

The overall length is 2.2 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

In operation, the metal plate would be positioned to use the tabs with the appropriate spacing for a particular valve.

Other examples of valve grinding attachements include the Blackhawk T-11 Valve Grinding Adapter and Indestro 642 Valve Grinding Adapter.


Early 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets]
Fig. 10. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Double-Hex Sockets, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932.

Fig. 10 shows a group of three 1/2-drive double-hex sockets from the Early S-K Socket Set. The sockets are stamped with the fractional size flanked by a dot on each side, but without a company or brand marking.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 15/16, 31/32, and 1 inch. The finish is cadmium plating.


Early 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets]
Fig. 11. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Double-Square Sockets, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1932.

Fig. 11 shows a group of three 1/2-drive double-square sockets from the Early S-K Socket Set. The sockets are stamped with the fractional size flanked by a dot on each side, but without a company or brand marking.

The socket sizes are, from the left, 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4. The finish is cadmium plating.


Early S-K 1/2-Drive Socket Set

Now that we've seen some of the tools from the early set, this next figure shows the entire socket set in its metal case.

[S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 12. S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1932.

Fig. 12 shows an early S-K 1/2-drive socket set in a metal case, consisting of a speeder, ratchet handle, sliding Tee handle, 20 double-hex sockets, seven square sockets, and several miscellaneous tools. None of the tools in the set are marked with a company name, leaving the chipped decal on the inside lid as the only identification for the set. All of the tools are finished with cadmium plating.

The double-hex sockets are stored in the bay at the upper right. The socket sizes are, in the front row from left to right, 5/16, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, 19/32, and 5/8. Continuing in the middle row from right to left, the sizes are 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, 25/32, 13/16, 7/8, and 15/16, and in the back row from left to right, 31/32, 1 inch, 1-1/16, 1-3/16, and 1-1/4. The sockets are marked only with the fractional size.

The double-square sockets in the upper left bay have sizes 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, and 9/16 in the front from right to left, with 5/8, 11/16, and 3/4 in the back from left to right. As with other sockets, the double-square sockets are marked only with the fractional size.

The miscellaneous tools in the set include a drive plug for use with both the ratchet and sliding Tee handle, a screwdriver bit, and a valve-grinding attachment. In addition, the set as acquired included a spark-plug socket with a handle bar, although these tools may not have been part of the original contents.

Currently we don't have a catalog reference for this set and so are unsure of the original specifications, but the set as shown is believed to be nearly complete. The 11/16 socket was missing when the set was acquired and has been replaced with the correct part from another set. In addition, it's possible that the set was supposed to include a 1-1/8 socket, as it's somewhat unusual to have a set with a 1-3/16 size without the 1-1/8 size.

[Decal from S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 13. Decal from S-K Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1932.

Fig. 13 shows a close-up of the decal on the top lid of the early socket set. Although badly chipped, the upper part can be read as "S-K Tools", with "The Sherman-Klove Co." and "Chicago, U.S.A." in the lower section.

The metal case for the set measures 19.5 inches wide by 5.9 inches deep by 1.7 inches high. The case has some interesting construction details that could have helped keep the cost low. In particular, the hinges for the lid have been formed from the case parts themselves, by rolling two tabs on the upper lid and punching two channels at the back of the lower case. In addition, the lower case has rolled edges at the top, providing increased stiffness with the use of lighter gauge metal.

Similar construction details have been observed in the metal cases from early Hinsdale Manufacturing socket sets, which is not surprising given Sherman-Klove's role as a contract maker for Hinsdale.


Alloy Steel Sockets and Drive Tools

The S-K line of knurled-base sockets was introduced in the early to mid-1930s and was part of a very successful line of tools, allowing S-K to control a significant share of the socket market by the early 1940s. The sockets combined a number of desirable features, including strong construction, tapered walls to reach tight places, and an attractive appearance with contrasting polished and matte chrome.

S-K produced this line of sockets in three drive sizes, 1/4-, 1/2-, and 3/4-drive. Sockets with 3/8-drive were also available, but for some reason were not made in the knurled-base design. Socket broachings were 12-point and 8-point, with certain sizes offered in 6-point and 4-point instead.

The knurled-base sockets remained in production for a surprisingly long time -- until some time in the mid-1960s, as we will see shortly. Along the way there were a number of minor changes to the markings and engineering details, but each generation retained the same basic appearance and form.

The sections below will cover these changes in chronological order, though the exact dates are somewhat uncertain. The discussion and examples will use the 1/2-drive shallow line of sockets, as these were the most popular and are therefore more readily found.

Early S-K Chrome 401xx Series Sockets

[Early S-K Chrome 401xx Series Sockets]
Fig. 14. Early S-K Chrome 401xx Series 1/2-Drive Sockets, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 14 shows a group of the earliest generation of S-K 1/2-drive knurled-base sockets, marked "S-K Chrome" and with the fractional sizes, but without model numbers. The socket sizes are, from the left, 7/16, 1/2, 21/32, 11/16, 3/4, and 1-3/16.

The highly polished chrome finish of the upper part contrasts nicely with the matte finish of the knurled base section, giving the sockets their distinctive appearance.

The sockets were constructed using a cold-broach process and have a machined recess below the broach area. This was the common practice for making sockets in the early 1930s, but surprisingly S-K continued to use cold-broached construction even after most of the industry had moved to hot-broaching. Apparently S-K had perfected their methods and felt confident in continuing this way despite the prevailing opinion to the contrary.


Early S-K Chrome No. 4237 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[S-K No. 4237 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 15. S-K No. 4237 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 15 shows an early S-K No. 4237 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a model 40253 flex-head breaker bar, a cross-bar, and ten "S-K Chrome" sockets in the 401xx series.

The socket models and sizes are, from right to left, 40114 (7/16), 40116 (1/2), 40118 (9/16), 40120 (5/8), 40121 (21/32), 40122 (11/16), 40124 (3/4), 40126 (13/16), 40128 (7/8), and 40130 (15/16). (These model numbers aren't marked on the sockets, but are listed in the catalogs.) All of the sockets are marked "S-K Chrome" with the fractional size, except that the 5/8 socket is marked with only the size.


40253 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[S-K 40253 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 16. S-K 40253 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 16 shows the 1/2-drive S-K 40253 flex-head handle from the No. 4237 set, marked with the S-K Diamond logo and a model number.

The overall length is 15.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The knurled handle is drilled for a cross-bar with a relatively small 3/8 diameter, sufficient only for lightweight turning.


40170 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

[S-K 40170 1/2-Drive Forged Ratchet]
Fig. 17. S-K 40170 1/2-Drive Forged Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 17 shows an early 1/2-drive S-K 40170 ratchet, marked with the S-K Diamond logo forged into the handle, with "Drop Forged" on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.3 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The model 40170 ratchet was an early and relatively primitive ratchet, and was probably first offered in the early 1930s, possibly before S-K introduced its alloy-steel socket line. The ratchet remained available at least through 1939, but was not included in any of the standard socket sets in the 1939 catalog.


Chrome Alloy (S-K) 4070 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Reversible Ratchet

[Chrome Alloy (S-K) 4070 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 18. Chrome Alloy (S-K) 4070 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 18 shows an early 1/2-drive "Chrome Alloy" 4070 reversible ratchet with a forged body, marked with the "Chrome Alloy" brand commonly used for S-K's contract production. (See the later section on Brazil Tools for more information on this brand.)

The overall length is 10.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The model 4070 ratchet was a ruggedly made tool with a number of commendable features, including a relatively fine 28-tooth movement, low backdrag, and a soft-acting reverse switch free of spastic movement during operation. Had it not been for the introduction of S-K's hugely successful 42470 (and related) fine-tooth ratchets, the model 4070 might have become quite popular and sold in large quantities. However, as it turned out this model was soon superseded by the 4270 Forged-Handle Ratchet, which incorporated the popular new fine-tooth mechanism.


S-K Chrome 40809 Drag-Link Socket

By 1939 the S-K catalog was listing individual model numbers for the knurled-base sockets, and the illustrations show that they retained the "S-K Chrome" logo. The model numbers (for the 1/2-drive shallow sockets) were assigned as "401xx", where "xx" is the socket size in 32nds.

[S-K Chrome 40809 1/2-Drive Drag Link Driver]
Fig. 19. S-K Chrome 40809 1/2-Drive Drag Link Driver, ca. 1939.

Fig. 19 shows an early 1/2-drive S-K 40809 drag link driver, marked "S-K Chrome" with the model number.

The finely-detailed knurling and highly polished faces of the draglink blade show the high quality of production for this series.


S-K 401xx Series Sockets

By the mid 1940s the "S-K Chrome" marking had been replaced with a simple "S-K", plus the model number and fractional size.

[S-K 401xx 1/2-Drive Sockets]
Fig. 20. S-K 401xx 1/2-Drive Sockets, ca. mid 1940s.

Fig. 20 shows a partial set 1/2-drive S-K 401xx series sockets, each marked "S-K" with the model number. (The model numbers are mostly visible on the larger sockets.)

The socket models and sizes are, in the bottom row left to right, 40118 (9/16), 40119 (19/32), 40120 (5/8), 40122 (11/16), 40125 (25/32), 40126 (13/16), and 40128 (7/8). The top row sockets are, left to right, 40130 (15/16), 40131 (31/32), 40132 (1 Inch), 40134 (1-1/16), and 40136 (1-1/8).

Note that these sockets include three of the less common sizes, 19/32, 25/32, and 31/32; a fourth size, 21/32, may have been available at this time as well. According to the S-K catalogs, the availability of certain sizes changed over the years. For example, the 1939 catalog offered all of the 19/32, 21/32, 25/32, and 31/32 sizes, but a 1957 catalog shows that the 21/32 and 31/32 sizes had been discontinued by then.


S-K B40826 1/2-Drive 13/16 "Buick Special" Deep Socket

By the late 1930s S-K was offering deep sockets with extra-thin walls for Buick spark-plug service. These "Buick Special" models were available in a 13/16 or 7/8 size, and the model numbers carried a "B" prefix to distinguish them from the standard 408xx sockets. The catalog noted that the sockets were not guaranteed, due to the extra-thin walls.

[S-K B40826 1/2-Drive Buick 13/16 Deep Socket]
Fig. 21. S-K B40836 1/2-Drive Buick Deep Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 21 shows a 1/2-drive S-K B40826 13/16 deep socket for Buick spark-plugs, marked "S-K" above the knurled band. The socket is equipped with a cross-bar hole, a standard feature for the earlier spark-plug sockets.

The overall height is 3.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished upper walls.


4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

The next figure shows one of the earliest fine-tooth ratchets produced by S-K, marked with the first of a number of their patents on ratchet mechanisms.

[S-K Model 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 22. S-K Model 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1934-1938.

Fig. 22 shows a 1/2-drive model 4270 ratchet, marked "Chrome Alloy" and with "Pat. No. 1981526". Although not marked with the S-K name, the ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #1,981,526, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company. In addition, the distinctive forged handle is identical to the later S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown below.

The overall length is 10.2 inches.

The ratchet is extremely well made, with the heavy forged handle hardened to the point that a file will barely touch it. The 50-tooth ratchet mechanism uses a pivoting pawl with three teeth on each side, providing a fine action without sacrificing strength.

The inset shows the reverse side with two "T" letters stamped in the handle; these appear to be factory markings, as some chrome appears in the bottom of one, and the handle is too hard to be stamped by casual methods. This probably indicates that the ratchet was contract production, possibly for Thorsen Tools, who were known to use a "TT" mark.

The most notable detail for this particular tool is the patent #1,981,526, which was issued in 1934 as the earliest of a number of ratchet patents developed by S-K. In fact, this model appears to have been the first fine-tooth reversible ratchet on the market, or at least the first one to reach a wide market.

S-K's tool engineer T. Rueb went on to make a number of improvements to this basic design, and eventually received at least seven ratchet-related patents for S-K; clearly the company had made ratchet development a priority during this period! Most of the ratchets of this model (and other drive sizes) found today will be marked with the later patent #2,232,477 issued in 1941.


42470 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

Our next example shows a later 1/2-drive S-K model 42470 ratchet, a familiar and well-known model, but in a very unusual configuration with the flat forged handle seen in the previous figure.

[S-K 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet With Forged Handle]
Fig. 23. S-K Model 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet with Unusual Forged Handle, ca. 1941-1945.

Fig. 23 shows an S-K model 42470 ratchet, marked with the S-K-Diamond logo and "Pat. No. 2232477" on a raised and polished panel. The forged body is hardened everywhere and is unplated, but with a polished head and panel.

The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The model 42470 ratchet was first introduced in the late 1930s and enjoyed a long and successful product life, with production continuing into the S-K Wayne period. The first ratchets were produced under patent #1,981,526, while later models used the improved mechanism in patent #2,232,477. This patent was issued in 1941 to T. Rueb and assigned to Sherman-Klove.

This particular tool presents a bit of a mystery though, as according to the S-K catalogs, the model 42470 was available only with a round shank and knurled handle. The flat forged handle of this tool matches that of the earlier model 4270 ratchet shown above, and also resembles their model 4070R reversible ratchet. Although these observations might suggest that this tool was an early prototype, the second-generation patent number wasn't issued until 1941, well after the 42470 models with knurled handles were available. The likely explanation is that S-K continued to produce some quantity of forged-handle ratchets, perhaps as special-order items.

As a best guess for the manufacturing date, this tool was probably produced some time during 1941-1945, when wartime shortages of chromium forced manufacturers to forego the chrome plated finishes.


42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[S-K 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 24. S-K Model 42470 1/2-Drive Ratchet.

Fig. 24 below puts us back on more familiar ground, showing another S-K model 42470 ratchet, but with the conventional knurled handle. The tool is marked with the S-K-Diamond logo and "Pat. No. 2232477".

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.


No. 4168 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[S-K No. 4168 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 25. S-K No. 4168 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 25 shows an S-K No. 4168 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a model 42470 ratchet, a 41653 flex-head breaker bar with a cross-bar, and 14 sockets in the 401xx series.

The socket models and sizes are, from the left, 40114 (7/16), 40116 (1/2), 40118 (9/16), 40119 (19/32), 40120 (5/8), 40121 (21/32), 40122 (11/16), 40124 (3/4), 40126 (13/16), 40128 (7/8), 40130 (15/16), 40132 (1 inch), 40134 (1-1/16), and 40136 (1-1/8). All of the sockets are marked "S-K" with the model number, except for the 21/32 socket, an older "S-K Chrome" socket without a model number marking.

The 401xx series sockets have the distinctive knurled base and tapered upper walls illustrated in previous figures, and all have plain walls in the drive end.

The No. 4168 socket set was first offered in 1939 as an upgraded No. 4167 set, with the addition of the 42470 ratchet. This particular example was built up from a period toolbox based on the catalog description. However, it's possible that at some point the 21/32 socket in the set might have been replaced by a more current 25/32 size. (At the present time we don't have an S-K catalog for the mid 1940s period.)


40152 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[S-K 40152 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 26. S-K 40152 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 26 shows a 1/2-drive S-K 40152 sliding Tee handle, stamped with the S-K-Diamond logo and model number.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the bar diameter is 0.56 (9/16) inches. The finish is chrome plating.


41653 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[S-K 41653 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 27. S-K 41653 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. Late 1950s.

Fig. 27 shows a 1/2-drive S-K 41653 flex-head handle, stamped with the S-K-Diamond logo and model number.

The overall length is 17.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This is a later version of the 41653 breaker bar with the handle drilled for a 7/16 diameter cross-bar, smaller than the 9/16 bars used with earlier tools. The handle is still equipped with a 1/2-drive broached end, allowing the breaker bar to be used as an extension.


No. 4810 1/2-Drive Deep Socket Set

[S-K No. 4810 1/2-Drive Deep Socket Set]
Fig. 28. S-K No. 4810 1/2-Drive Deep Socket Set, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1946-1955.

Fig. 28 shows a 1/2-drive S-K No. 4810 socket set, a collection of nine 408xx-series deep sockets in a metal box. The set model number is given by a faded sticker on the side (see inset), and the 1939 S-K catalog lists a very similar No. 4808 set of eight deep sockets.

The socket models and sizes are, from the left, 40818 (9/16), 40820 (5/8), 40822 (11/16), 40824 (3/4), 40826 (13/16), 40828 (7/8), 40830 (15/16), 40832 (1 Inch), and 40836 (1-1/8). The sockets all have a cross-bar hole for use with the Ell handle included in the set. At the time, deep sockets were intended primarily for spark-plug removal and were usually provided with a hole for use with a cross-bar.

The S-K 1/2-drive deep sockets probably went through the same generational changes as the shallow sockets; in particular, later versions of the deep sockets dropped the cross-bar hole and added drive-end recesses. Although the relative timing of these changes is not known, the 1957 catalog shows that the cross-bar holes had disappeared by that time.


4V118 1/2-Drive 9/16 Specialty Socket

[S-K 4V118 1/2-Drive 9/16 Specialty Socket]
Fig. 29. S-K 4V118 1/2-Drive 9/16 Specialty Socket, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 29 shows a 1/2-drive S-K 4V118 specialty socket with a 9/16 hex opening, designed for accessing Ford (or other) connecting rod bolts. The socket is stamped "S-K" with the model number and fractional size, with a "Not Guaranteed" warning just above the knurled band.

The finish is chrome plating with polished upper walls.

This socket is designed with extra-thin walls due to limited space for the connecting rod nuts.


3/8-Drive Sockets and Tools


45170 3/8-Drive Ratchet

The fine-tooth ratchet mechanisms were also available in other drive sizes, as our next example illustrates.

[S-K Model 45170 Ratchet]
Fig. 30. S-K Model 45170 3/8-Drive Ratchet with Early Patent, ca. 1934-1939.

Fig. 30 shows a 3/8-drive S-K model 45170 ratchet, marked with the S-K-Diamond logo and "Pat. No. 1981526".

The overall length is 7.5 inches.

The finish is polished chrome. The model 45170 was a popular and familiar tool, and this particular tool uses the early patent #1,981,526 mechanism, with a 40-tooth ratchet gear. Even after 70 years the ratchet mechanism operates smoothly and shifts easily, a testament to the high quality production that went into these early S-K tools.


3/4-Drive Sockets and Tools

In the mid to late 1930s S-K began offering a line of 3/4-drive tools, with sockets similar in design to the 1/2-drive knurled-base sockets. These tools were selected by Sears Roebuck as their heavy-duty socket line.


Early S-K Chrome [47148] 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Double-Hex Socket

[S-K 47170 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket]
Fig. 31. S-K Model 47170 3/4-Drive 1-1/2 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 31 shows an early 3/4-drive S-K [47148] 1-1/2 double-hex socket, stamped with the fractional size and "S-K Chrome" above the knurled band, but without a model number.

The finish is chrome plating.


47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet

[S-K 47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 32. S-K 47170 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1941-1942.

Fig. 32 shows a 3/4-drive model 47170 ratchet, marked with the S-K-Diamond logo and a "Pat. Pend." notation. The overall length is 18.2 inches.

The ratchet was disassembled for cleaning and to check the mechanism, which is the improved design covered by S-K's patent #2,232,477. The finish is cadmium plating, which together with the patent pending status suggests a manufacturing date in 1941 or 1942.

The relatively large diameter of the head allows space for 70 teeth in the ratchet gear, which is complemented by a pawl having four teeth on each side. This combination gives the ratchet both great strength and an extremely fine action, especially for such a heavy-duty tool.

These ratchets must have been a cause of great excitement when they were introduced in the mid 1930s, as other heavy-duty ratchets of the time had only very coarse actions. At least one major customer was very impressed: Sears Roebuck chose S-K to supply its Craftsman 3/4-drive tools and sockets, even after the contract for the other drive sizes had gone to New Britain Machine. The Craftsman catalogs show that S-K continued to supply the 3/4-drive tools at least until 1949. A later figure shows an example of a Craftsman 3/4-Drive Socket with the "K-Circle" manufacturer's code.


Wrenches and Other Tools

Sherman-Klove was known primarily as a maker of screw-machine products and probably had only limited (if any) drop-forging capabilities. Tools such as wrenches were normally produced by drop-forging, so it's not surprising that S-K initially offered only a limited selection of wrenches.

The 1939 S-K catalog offered two series of wrench models, both of the offset double-box style. The 335xx series of short offset wrenches was available in three sizes, 33512 (3/8x7/16), 33516 (1/2x9/16), and 33520 (5/8x11/16).

The 330xx series of long offset wrenches offered six sizes, 33012 (3/8x7/16), 33016 (1/2x9/16), 33020 (5/8x11/16), 33024 (3/4x25/32), 33026 (13/16x7/8), and 33030 (15/16x1).

The catalog description for these wrenches notes the use of chrome vanadium steel, and the finish was chrome plating with polished ends and faces. (A second series of wrenches was available in cadmium plating at slightly lower prices, with model numbers in a parallel 43xxx series.)


33012 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33012 3/8x7/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 33. S-K 33012 3/8x7/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 33 shows an S-K 33012 3/8x7/16 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished panels and ends.


33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 34. S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 34 shows an S-K 33020 5/8x11/16 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished panels and ends.


33024 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33024 3/4x25/32 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 35. S-K 33024 3/4x25/32 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 35 shows an S-K 33024 3/4x25/32 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished panels and ends.


33030 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33030 15/16x1 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 36. S-K 33030 15/16x1 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 36 shows an S-K 33030 15/16x1 offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 14.5 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but on this example most has been lost due to wear.


33516 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[S-K 33516 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 37. S-K 33516 1/2x9/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 37 shows an S-K 33516 1/2x9/16 short offset box wrench, stamped "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the raised oval panel, with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 5.7 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the 33520 short offset box wrench, with differences in the offset design.

[S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 38. S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 38 shows an S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 short offset box wrench with raised oval panels, stamped with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised panel, with "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The cadmium finish suggests production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


[S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 39. S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1940s to 1950s.

Fig. 39 shows another S-K 33520 5/8x11/16 short offset box wrench with raised oval panels, stamped with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." on the raised panel, with "S-K" with the fractional sizes on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in code "3" to the right of the panel.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

Note that this example has a much flatter offset than the previous figure.


The Lectrolite Connection

S-K's use of contract production for its box wrenches may have served as an introduction to the Lectrolite Corporation, a tool company based in Defiance, Ohio.


S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 40A. S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 40A shows an S-K Lectrolite O-1214 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench with raised oval panels, stamped "S-K Lectrolite" with the fractional sizes on the front panel, with "Alloy" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 4.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 40B. S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 40B shows an S-K Lectrolite O-2526 25/32x13/16 open-end wrench with raised oval panels, stamped "S-K Lectrolite" with the fractional sizes on the front panel, with "Alloy" and "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 8.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with extensive losses due to rust.


Contract Production

In its early years Sherman-Klove was almost exclusively a contract manufacturer, and in later years continued to offer contract production for various customers. Sears Roebuck was probably their most important customer, with S-K supplying the 3/4-drive Craftsman line from the mid 1930s through the 1940s.


Brazil Tools and Chrome Alloy Sockets

In the course of researching this article, we discovered an interesting fragment of early Sherman-Klove history that appears to have been virtually forgotten today. During the 1930s Sherman-Klove apparently established a parallel line of tools under "Brazil Tools" brand, with nearly the full line of socket tools available under the alternate label. The Brazil Tools pieces were essentially identical to the corresponding S-K tools, except that the standard "S-K" or "S-K Chrome" markings were replaced with "Chrome Alloy" or just a model number.

The existence of this alternate line was discovered accidentally in a cache of catalogs and advertising literature from the 1930s and 40s. Included among the numerous items were an S-K catalog from 1939 and an advertising brochure from a previously unknown name, Brazil Tools. Upon examination it became apparent that the Brazil Tools items were identical to their S-K counterparts, as the engraved illustrations in the two catalogs were identical, and the catalog descriptions matched word for word. Even the model numbers matched in one sense, as the Brazil Tools numbers are derived by removing one digit from the corresponding S-K number. For example, an S-K 41653 flex-head handle was listed as a Brazil Tools 4653 handle with the same specifications.

The Brazil Tools brochure was printed without copyright and undated, but based on a comparison with the 1939 S-K catalog contents and prices, the brochure is likely somewhat earlier, possibly from 1936 or 1937.

Since the Brazil Tools pieces carried only generic markings of "Chrome Alloy" or a model number, with nothing to reveal the manufacturer, this product line would have greatly simplified contract production, especially for smaller customers.

Somewhat after discovering the Brazil Tools brochure, we were to acquire an even earlier example of the Brazil Tools production, a socket set matching S-K's production from the early 1930s. Based on this example, we now believe that the use of the Brazil Tools brand probably began around the same time (i.e. 1932) as the first use of the S-K brand.


Brazil Tools Advertising Brochure

[Brazil Tools Brochure]
Fig. 41. Brazil Tools Brochure, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 41 at the left shows the front of the Brazil Tools brochure, printed so that it folds open to reveal information on both sides.

The company name is listed on the front as the "Brazil Stamping Division", with the address given as 4715 South Central Park Avenue in Chicago. This location is about five miles away from the 3531 West 47th Street address for the main S-K offices.

The contents of the brochure include many of the same items listed in the S-K catalogs of the time: sockets and drive tools in 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4-drive, a selection of socket sets, and toolboxes of various sizes. The brochure did not include any fine-tooth ratchets comparable to the S-K 42470 or 45170 models, one of the factors indicating an earlier printing date.

The bottom half of the brochure cover has been printed with the name of the local distributor for Brazil Tools, in this case apparently a local auto parts store. This shows the other half of the strategy behind the Brazil Tools line -- by printing retail-level advertising brochures for the products, any local store could offer Brazil Tools as its own "house brand".

The prices in the brochure were helpful in estimating the printing date, but were not directly comparable to the 1939 S-K catalog prices, since the S-K pricing is stated as dealer net and the brochure is apparently for retail customers. S-K's dealer discount was probably about 30%, but the Brazil Tools prices are only about 10% higher than the S-K catalog. This difference suggests an earlier printing date for the brochure, possibly 1936 or 1937. (The late 1930s were a time of rising prices, as the economy slowly recovered from the Great Depression.)

Chrome Alloy 1/2-Drive Sockets

[Chrome Alloy Sockets from Brazil Tools Brochure]
Fig. 42. Chrome Alloy Sockets from Brazil Tools Brochure, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 42 at the left shows the listing for the 1/2-drive "Chrome Alloy" sockets in the Brazil Tools brochure, similar to but slightly different than the standard S-K 1/2-drive sockets. These sockets are the only tools that show any significant difference (except for markings) between the two brands. In the Brazil Tools sockets, the band of cross-hatched knurling extends all the way to the base, instead of forming a narrow ring of knurling. (Compare this illustration with the S-K Chrome Sockets shown previously.)

It's likely that S-K chose to make their Brazil Tools sockets slightly different, in order to avoid a dead giveaway on the manufacturer. The standard S-K sockets have a very distinctive design that would have been immediately recognized.

The discovery of this listing cleared up a long-standing mystery regarding the origin of these Chrome Alloy sockets. Sockets of this style had been found from time to time, and although the resemblance to the standard S-K sockets is obvious, the manufacturer had been somewhat uncertain.

The next two figures will show examples of these Chrome Alloy sockets, as collected "in the wild".

Chrome Alloy [4034] 1/2-Drive Socket

[Chrome Alloy 4034 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket]
Fig. 43. Chrome Alloy [4034] 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 43 shows a 1/2-drive Chrome Alloy [4034] 1-1/16 socket, marked "Chrome Alloy" with the fractional size. The socket is not marked with a model number, but was identified as number 4034 by the Brazil Tools brochure.

The inset at the right shows the interior of the socket, with the broached area undercut to allow removal of the chips.

Chrome Alloy [40xx] 1/2-Drive Sockets

[Chrome Alloy 40xx 1/2-Drive Sockets]
Fig. 44. Chrome Alloy [40xx] 1/2-Drive Sockets, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 44 shows a group of four 1/2-drive Chrome Alloy sockets, each marked "Chrome Alloy" with the fractional size, but without a model number. The sockets closely match the illustration in the Brazil Tools brochure.

The sizes are, from the left, 1/2 [4016], 9/16 [4018], 5/8 [4020], and 11/16 [4022], with the model numbers from the brochure given in brackets.

Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 45. Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 45 shows an early Brazil Tools 1/2-drive socket set, consisting of a sliding Tee handle, two double-male extensions, and double-hex sockets in sizes ranging from 7/16 to 7/8. The tools are unmarked except for the sizes on the sockets, and the set was identified only by the fragile decal on the inside of the cover.

The socket set as acquired included the nine sockets shown, with sizes (from the left) 7/8, 13/16, 3/4, 21/32, 5/8, 19/32, 9/16, 1/2, and 7/16. The original set probably included the two additional sizes 25/32 and 11/16, to fill in the gaps left in the row of sockets. The sockets are marked only with the fractional sizes, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The sockets and drive tools in this set are basically identical to the corresponding pieces tools in an Early S-K Socket Set from around 1932. See for example the S-K Sliding Tee Handle from the early S-K set.

[Decal from Brazil Tools Socket Set]
Fig. 46. Decal from Brazil Tools Socket Set, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 46 shows a close-up of the decal on the inside cover of the Brazil Tools set. Although the decal is badly chipped, the "Brazil" across the top can be recognized, and the "To" of "Tools" is still intact. The lines below have a partial "Chicago" and "Ill.", followed by "Made in U.S.A." in the border of the triangle.

In addition to the markings, the overall design with its two nested inverted triangles matches the logo on the front of the Brazil Tools brochure.

The fragile state of the decal shows one reason why Brazil Tools socket sets are rarely found, or at least rarely recognized. Since the decal provides the only positive identification, the set is just a few chips away from becoming just another early tool set of anonymous origin.

Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket

[Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive Socket]
Fig. 47. Brazil Tools Early 1/2-Drive 13/16 Socket, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 47 shows an example of the sockets in the Brazil Tools set, a 1/2-drive 13/16 12-point socket marked only with the fractional size.

The finish is cadmium plating.

The inset shows the interior of the socket, illustrating the cold-broached construction. Although difficult to see in the photograph, the socket has a bored recess below the broached area.

This socket is basically identical to the Early S-K Sockets shown in an earlier figure, which are believed to date from around 1932. The S-K sockets are also unmarked except for the size, but several construction and marking details help to distinguish these sockets from other similar makes. In particular, the sockets are turned to give the upper walls a slight taper, and the sockets have a flat base with no indentations around the drive opening. Another detail to note is that the size marking has a small dot (or dimple) on each side. Finally, the band of cross-hatched knurling around the base is flush with the surface, rather than raised or depressed.


Fulton

Fulton was a well-known brand used by Sears Roebuck for "economy" or "value" tools from the early 1900s through at least the 1940s. This brand was listed extensively in the Sears catalogs from 1908 (or earlier) onward. More information on Fulton can be found in the section on the Fulton Tool Company in our article on early Craftsman tools.

After the introduction of their Craftsman brand, Sears continued to use Fulton as an alternate economy brand. In the 1930s Sears offered economy grade socket sets under the Fulton brand, and these sets have been identified as production by S-K Tools.

Fulton 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[Fulton 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 48. Fulton 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 48 shows a Fulton 1/2-drive socket set in a metal box with a sliding cover. The set consists of a sliding Tee handle, a drive plug, an extension, and ten sockets ranging from 7/16 up to 7/8 in size. The tools are unmarked except for the socket sizes, and the only marking on the set is a decal showing "Fulton" and "Value Leader" on the top of the cover.

The socket sizes are, from left to right, 7/8, 13/16, 3/4, 11/16, 21/32, 5/8, 19/32, 9/16, 1/2, and 7/16. The sockets are marked with the fractional size, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The tools and sockets in this set are basically identical to the tools in early S-K and Brazil Tools sets. (The set as acquired was missing the handle bar and drive plug, and these were borrowed from an early S-K set for the photograph.)

This set is also listed in as the Fulton 1/2-Drive Socket Set in our article on early Craftsman tools.


Fulton 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension

[Fulton 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension]
Fig. 49. Fulton 1/2-Drive 9 Inch Extension, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 49 shows the 1/2-drive 9 inch extension from the Fulton socket set. The extension has two bands of decorative cross-hatched knurling, but is otherwise unmarked.

The overall length is 9.2 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

Fulton 1/2-Drive 7/8 Socket

[Fulton 1/2-Drive 7/8 Socket]
Fig. 50. Fulton 1/2-Drive 7/8 Socket, with Inset for Broaching, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 50 shows an example of the sockets in the Fulton socket set, a 1/2-drive 7/8 double-hex socket, stamped with the fractional size. The base of the socket has a band of decorative cross-hatched knurling.

The finish is cadmium plating.

A comparison of this socket with the Brazil Tools Socket illustrated above shows identical design and construction features.


Sears Craftsman

In the mid 1930s Sears selected S-K's line of 3/4-drive sockets and drive tools for their Craftsman brand, and these tools were offered in the Craftsman catalogs at least as early as 1935. The identification of S-K as the manufacturer was made by the close resemblance of the ratchet and sockets to the S-K models, and by examination of the patent number (issued to S-K) in a photograph of a Craftsman 3/4-drive ratchet. These tools are marked with a manufacturing code consisting of a "K" with a circle around it.


Craftsman 3/4-Drive Socket

[Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Socket]
Fig. 51. Craftsman 3/4-Drive 1-5/16 Socket with Knurled Base, ca. 1935.

Fig. 51 at the left shows an example of the Craftsman 3/4-drive sockets made by S-K. The close similarity to the 1/2-drive knurled sockets is apparent from the photograph, and the socket construction matches as well. This particular socket is marked with the original Craftsman block logo, suggesting a manufacturing date in the early to mid 1930s. Note the K-Circle manufacturer code used to identify S-K production.

Our article Craftsman "BE" and H-Circle Series Tools has information on the other line of Craftsman sockets and drive tools sold at around the same time.


Gamble's Auto Stores

The Gamble-Skogmo Corporation operated a chain of retail stores as Gamble's Auto Stores. These stores offered a selection of tools, and in the 1940s the socket sets were easily recognized as S-K production. Gamble's used the brands Tiger Tools and Artisan for its mechanic's tools.

The next several figures show examples of S-K production for the Artisan brand.


Artisan 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[Artisan 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 52. Artisan 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 52 shows a 1/2-drive Artisan socket set in a metal case, consisting of a ratchet, flex-head breaker bar, extension, and 13 sockets ranging in size from 7/16 up to 1-1/8.

The reader will immediately recognize this as an S-K set, and in fact no attempt has been made to disguise the maker, with all of the tools (except the ratchet) bearing standard S-K markings. The flex-head breaker bar is an S-K model 41653, and the 10 inch extension is an S-K model 40162. The distinctive forged-handle model 4270 ratchet was produced by S-K from the mid to late 1930s through at least the mid 1940s.

The sockets in the set all have the distinctive knurled base and tapered upper walls of the S-K 401xx model series. The models and sizes are, from the left, 40114 (7/16), 40116 (1/2), 40118 (9/16), 40119 (19/32), 40120 (5/8), 40122 (11/16), 40124 (3/4), 40126 (13/16), 40128 (7/8), 40130 (15/16), 40132 (1 inch), 40134 (1-1/16), and 40136 (1-1/8).

Currently we don't have a catalog description for this set, so the original contents are a bit uncertain. The set is very similar to the S-K No. 4168 Socket Set shown in an earlier figure.


Artisan 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

[Artisan Model 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 53. Artisan Model 4270 1/2-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1940s.

Fig. 53 shows the 1/2-drive Artisan 4270 ratchet from the above set, marked with the Artisan brand on the raised panel, and with the model number and "Pat. No. 2232477" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #2,232,477, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company. In addition, the distinctive forged handle is nearly identical to the S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown in an earlier figure.


Artisan 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet

S-K also produced 3/8-drive tools for the Artisan brand, as the next figure illustrates.

[Artisan Model 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet]
Fig. 54. Artisan Model 4570 3/8-Drive Forged-Handle Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1941-1945.

Fig. 54 shows a 3/8-drive Artisan 4570 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped with the Artisan brand on the raised panel, with the model number and "Pat. No. 2232477" on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This ratchet can be readily identified as S-K production by the patent #2,232,477, assigned to the Sherman-Klove Company. In addition, the distinctive forged handle is similar to the S-K Model 42470 Ratchet shown in another figure.

The plain steel finish suggests production during the 1941-1945 wartime years.


References and Resources

The photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts collection.

Information on the early history of Sherman-Klove and S-K Tools was obtained from an article on the Berland's Tools website, a company with connections to the Sherman family.


Catalog Coverage

The table below summarizes our catalog resources for S-K and related brands.

Company Title Date Prices Notes
Brazil Tools Mechanics' Tools and Tool Chests 1936? Yes Fold-out brochure. Shows parallel line of "Chrome Alloy" tools
S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts 1939 Yes Sockets marked "S-K Chrome". Lists 42470 ratchet model
S-K Socket Wrench Sets and Parts 1940 Yes  
S-K Catalog No. 649 1949 No  
S-K Socket Sets and Parts 1950 Yes Fold-out brochure. Net prices to mechanics.
S-K Socket Sets and Parts 1953 Yes Fold-out brochure. Net prices to mechanics.
S-K/Lectrolite Socket Sets and Parts 1957 Yes  
S-K/Lectrolite Catalog No. 958 1958 No  
S-K/Lectrolite Hand Tool Catalog 1963 Yes Fold-out brochure. Subsidiaries of Symington-Wayne Corp.

Two later catalogs dated 1969 and 1970 from Dresser Industries showed the state of the product line at that time.


Patents and Trademarks

Patent information was obtained from the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) web site at uspto.gov. Patent documents were obtained from sites offering free downloads, notably freepatentsonline.com.


Feedback

If any readers have additional information about Sherman-Klove or S-K Tools, please let us know via the "Contact Us" link on the home page. Your comments and suggestions are welcome as well.


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